Distracted Driving Awareness Month is a united effort among government agencies, public safety organizations and driver improvement enterprises to recognize the dangers of and eliminate preventable deaths from distracted driving.
“Distracted Driving among Teens: How Can We Educate and Protect
Our Youth?“cited 3,000 teen deaths occur every year from texting and driving nationwide, in addition to 300,000 injuries per year resulting from crashes involving texting while driving. In fact, car crashes are the leading cause of death in drivers ages 16-19. Anything that causes a driver to take his or her focus off the tasks of driving is a distraction.
THREE LETHAL DISTRACTIONS
Visual distraction – taking your eyes are off the road, even for a few seconds
Manual distraction – taking your hands are off the wheel
Cognitive distraction – focusing on something other than driving
Texting while driving is a combination of all three of distractions. For a visualization of how far you can travel in five seconds, think the length of a football field – that’s a long distance to cover when you aren’t looking where you’re going.
Forty-seven states and Washington, D.C. have made texting while driving illegal. Besides avoiding a hefty fine, some as high as $500, resisting the urge to text can save lives. Even using a hands-free device is distracting for the driver, as it still limits a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle properly. In the 2017 volume of Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, the “Mobile phone use while driving” literary review found 60 studies on mobile phone use, concluding that hands-free mobile phones do not provide greater safety than hand-held mobile phones. Additionally, the review identified four phases in the process of understanding the impacts of mobile phone while driving including evidence that conversations with the driver are also deterrents to safe driving. Much of the research points to the fact that it is equally important to have your mind free of distractions while driving.
To avoid distracted driving:
- Set your phone or app to “driving” mode. This will automatically respond with a message while you’re driving.
- Be mindful of when you contact your friends and family – don’t text or call someone if you know they are or could be driving.
- Pull off to the side of the road if a cellphone must be handled (absolutely must respond to a text, GPS navigation tasks, etc.).